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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Owning It

Warning:  In this post I talk about gender and identity issues. Folks with nervous dispositions or Victorian levels of morality may not be comfortable with what I have to say. 

It has come to my attention that some folks took exception to my presence at the NRA Annual Meeting. (No, I'm not going to link to the post(s) in question as I don't believe in feeding the trolls, but those who are suitably curious should be able to find it without too much trouble.)  Sure, the words are couched in terms of "We don't like how Erin acted in this situation," but I find it a bit curious that:
  1. No one said anything about this to me, personally, either while I was "disturbing them" or afterwards.  All of this only came to light once people were safely ensconced behind their computer screens, miles away. Since no one communicated their displeasure to me until well after the fact, despite me being right there, I can only assume people are upset that I can't read their minds. 
  2. The words "attention whore" are being bandied about by people who weren't even present.
  3. These same people are calling me "he" -- in one notable case, right on my Facebook page. I even gave her the benefit of the doubt that it might have been a typo and asked her to "please change that pronoun, thank you very much."  I was told, quite specifically, "Not going to happen."
And yet they claim that it's my behavior which is inexcusable. Harrumph, I say. One does not descend to this level of rudeness out of dissatisfaction with my sense of propriety.  Instead, I say it's pretty clear to me that these people are disgusted by my mere existence. It's the only reason I can think of for people -- who have not met me, and to the best of my knowledge I have neither offended nor interacted negatively with -- have decided to eschew basic human courtesy by insulting me and choosing to use terms with which I do not identify.

And you know what?  Good.  This means I stand for something they find uncomfortable, and rather than attack my position and look like a bigot,  they have chosen to attack me personally and couch their petty hatred in socially acceptable terms.

There's a saying that you can judge someone by the quality of their enemies, and given the levels of pettiness to which my opponents are stooping, I'd say I come out looking pretty good in comparison.

I could argue the applicability of being called an attention whore by other bloggers (who, by definition, are just ordinary folks who expect other people to look at them, follow them, and read what they write -- pot, meet kettle), but instead of refuting their points I'm going to do something they won't expect:  I'm going to own it.

Hi, my name is Erin Palette, and I'm a genderqueer attention whore.

Squeaky still needs our help, by the way. 

I want people to look at me, listen to what I have to say, and think about my words. What's more -- and this is probably what is chafing everyone's buttocks -- I am an effective attention whore. When I came out last year, I did so specifically to raise money for a member of our community who needed life-changing surgery.

This attention whore raised over six thousand dollars, bitches. 

When is the last time you helped anyone so significantly? I'm guessing never, and with your attitude of "Let's make fun of the people effecting positive change within our community rather than do anything about it ourselves,"  I doubt you ever will. Did any of you so much as post a link to Squeaky's fundraiser?  No? Then your opinions are quite frankly irrelevant.

So that's the attention whore part settled -- now we get to the fun part of identity politics.  Last year, as the deadline for revealing my face (and therefore my genderqueer nature) loomed, I had quite the freak-out. I was terrified that people would react with disgust and horror, and they would mock me and make me feel like a freak. I was frightened that I would be rejected by the community that meant so much to me.

To their credit, 90% of the gunblogger world replied with a shrug and a "So what?  You're one of us. As long as you aren't trying to drag me into your bedroom, what your gender and sexuality is and how you display it is none of our business."  And when you think about it, this makes sense; when a community is founded on the principle that the individual is important enough to defend with lethal force, it also follows that the other rights of that individual are similarly sacred. For this, and for the acceptance I was shown, I thank everyone who offered support.

But as I've discovered over the past week, apparently there are some people who did not accept me, and have been nurturing resentment towards me for the past nine months or so, just waiting for an opportunity to bash me. I am particularly fond of one commentor's suggestions that "If he wanted attention so damn badly, he should have worn a damn tutu."

Well, you know, I suppose I could have. It really did occur to me to bring along some of my feminine clothes, but I decided not to because I didn't want to make things weird for those people who are uncomfortable with that kind of in-your-face expression of alternate sexuality.  In other words, this attention whore decided to dress in a manner that would make OTHER PEOPLE comfortable. What a terrible person I must be.

So here we are, a week later, and people are taking cheap shots at me for, essentially, being someone they don't like in too close a proximity to them.

Well, guess what, folks?  By mocking me for being me, by not accepting me for who I am and reacting with contempt when I don't fit into your rigidly designed mold, you've fulfilled my worst fears. This means I have nothing left to lose at this point. You took your best shot, and not only am I still here, I know who my friends are. What's more, I'm pretty damn sure my supporters outnumber my detractors.

So since the worst has already happened, I might as well be fully out and proud and post things like this:

You thought you'd seen whoring before?  You haven't seen anything yet. Perhaps I will become the poster girl for all the queer, transvestite and transgender gunnies out there (oh, they do exist, and probably in greater numbers than any of you imagine).  And once again, I will be doing it to promote our cause, showing that gun owners, as a whole, are accepting of alternative sexualities and genders and lifestyles. What's deliciously ironic is that YOU are the ones who empowered me thus:  by fulfilling my worst fear, I have gone from running away from it to running straight towards it, with the express goal of knocking that fear directly on its ass and then trampling it as I run over it.

So now, my dear detractors, you are faced with a decision:
  1. You can continue to mock me as I continue to promote our cause, in which case you end up fulfilling every negative stereotype about gun owners (being insecure, bigoted, intolerant, etc) that the Brady Campaign, CGSV, Moms Demand Action, et al. perpetuate;
  2. Or you can quit the high school drama and get out of my way.
Do whatever you like, darlings. Just keep in mind that doing the former gives aid to our political opponents, and doing the latter paints us as an inclusive, non-kneejerk community. It's your call.  Just remember what happened to Dick Metcalf and Jim Zumbo, and what gunnies do to folks who hurt our cause...

But above all, you need to realize that no matter what you choose, I WIN.   I am no longer afraid of what you may do or say.  In fact, I'm going to anticipate the vile hate I'll get for this and beat everyone to the punch:

Look at that. Give it a good, long look, and realize that I did this to myself.  I've already thought of all the horrible things that can be said, because I think them every time I look in a mirror.  Look at that picture and understand that you have no power over me, because you cannot possibly hate me any more than I hate myself.

And yet, here I am, unafraid, because I realize that I can be a force for positive change. And it was all thanks to you!

So in conclusion:
  • You cannot stop me
  • You cannot hurt me
  • You caused all of this by not being able to keep a civil tongue. 
So go on, talk more trash about me.  I'm dying to see what else I can do to make you uncomfortable in the name of tolerance and gun rights advocacy. 

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